Island Life, JET Life

An Island Girl in the Big City (Again)

This past weekend, I decided to overnight ferry to the mainland for a weekend getaway to Kagoshima City. If I want to spend time in the city, the overnight ferry from Amami to Kagoshima is the most convenient way for me to travel for several reasons. 1) The port is only a five minute drive from my apartment, 2) I can park at the port for free, 3) the ferry is overnight so I don`t lose any time during the day, and 4) the Kagoshima port is a short walk from the heart of the city!

Oh what a beautiful morning from the ferry!
Enjoying the warm winds and waves

The reason I ventured up to the mainland this weekend was to support my friend while she ran in the first annual Kagoshima Marathon, but that  wasn`t until Sunday, so I had all day Saturday to explore! This was actually my first time exploring Kagoshima City in the sunshine, so I spent most of the day skipping, dancing, and frolicking rather than walking around.

Saturday in the Sun
When an island girl visits the big city, there are three important things she must always do:

1)Drink Starbucks (I’m sipping my first Sakura frappuccino ever. I was surprised by how good it was in this picture but also experiencing a major brain freeze.)


2) Go to Uniqlo (I didn’t take any pictures while I furiously shopped in Amu Plaza, but this is me sporting my new Snow White shirt from Uniqlo as I cling to Little Foot’s mom or dad’s neck.)


3) Eat western food (This is the mushroom burger from Dolphin Industry in Kagoshima City. I was so in need of American food that I ate my first burger in almost two years!)


The burger was Saturday night’s dinner, but lunch was at this fantastic brunch place called Good Neighbors.

The Entrance
The really FUN glass I drank water out of
My delicious lunch set. Not pictured: the sponge cake dessert and iced latte. Total: 1100 yen

After lunch, we took the short ferry ride over to Sakurajima, Kagoshima`s most volatile and unpredictable resident. It was rainy and windy the first time I went to Sakurajima,  so I could barely see him. But Saturday’s weather was clear enough to see Mr. Volcano in all of his majestic, steaming glory.

Sakurajima from the ferry
I lava you, Kagoshima!
This is as close as we can get to the beast.

As if wandering around an active volcano isn’t cool enough (err, hot enough), Kagoshima City has found a way to make the Sakurajima experience even cooler: there is a very literal DINOSAUR PARK.


“If the volcano doesn’t get you first…I will! RAWR!”
“Extinction makes me feel rather empty…”
“I’m taller than the trees! I’m so scary!”
And a random steep yet painfully slow slide.
The holey-est of all dinosaurs
Riding into battle on my champion stegosaurus
“What do you mean we are the kings of the jungle?!”

Sunday Runday
All week long, the weather report called for a 90% chance of rain on Sunday, so I had packed my trusty neon peach colored raincoat in preparation. And when the marathoners took off from Dolphin Port at 8:30 am on Sunday morning, the sky looked ominous.  But as the day went on…the dark clouds disappeared, and the sun came out! Hooray for all 10,000 runners! It was just like when I ran my half marathon in February in the sunshine when I thought it was going to pour all day.

The marathon runners waiting for start time.

After my friend crossed the finish line, it was an absolute maze to reach her. I had to weave around lots of buildings and barricades to finally reach the park where spectators could reunite with their runners. I tried to take a shortcut at one point, but a policeman stopped me. In my distress, I said to him, “Sumimasen! My Tamagoyaki! Onegaishimasu!”

Miraculously…he let me go past him and take that short cut, even though what I said to him translates to “excuse me! My cooked egg! Please!” What I meant to say was tomadachi, meaning friend…mishappenings still happening 7 months in. :)

This is tamagoyaki…


The Ride Home
I don`t mind the ferry ride to Kagoshima because it leaves at 9 pm and gets in at 8 am. If the water isn`t choppy, I may even be able to get a good night`s sleep. But I hate the return ferry. It leaves at 6 pm from Kagoshima and arrives in Amami at 5 am. 6 am is too early to go to bed and 5 am is way too early to get up! At least I had friends (or tamagoyakis) with me this time. This is the fourth time I have returned to Amami by overnight ferry, and I never sleep well on the ride back, but I can usually manage to make it through the school day on Monday. This time however,  I was in a daze all day. My head still felt like I was on the ferry until about 2 pm. In my post-ferry delirium, I wrote this short, three line poem:

There is an ocean in my mind
Memories leap frog like overnight ferries
Over my brainwaves

That’s all for now, folks.



4 thoughts on “An Island Girl in the Big City (Again)”

  1. Looks like you had a great time! School must have been like a dream with that little sleep :) Great post. From someone who wants to visit this beautiful country one day, keep em coming!

    1. Thank you, Ian! There will be plenty more posts where this one came from! I hope you get to visit Japan some day and experience the magic first hand. :)

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